Drones are small autonomous vehicles that perform different tasks on Mars.
- Unlike RC vehicles drones cannot have orders queued by holding the ⇧Shift key!
- The player can command drones around at will but the player cannot override the automatically set task! This means that in IF the algorithm has already assigned a drone to do something, like delivering one piece of material to a construction site, THEN the player cannot command a different drone to do this task instead.
- Drones have a built in accumulator (American: a rechargeable battery), they only function as long as it contains energy.
- Drones automatically recharge themselves at suitable locations (RC Commander, Rocket or Recharge Station)
- Drones recharge before they attempt to do an automated task, that would leave them out of energy! In case the player orders a drone to do something, they do not calculate the required energy preemptively.
- Drones can fully repair each other!
- Drones can partially recharge each other!
- In order to perform automated tasks, Drones require to be assigned to a drone controller (RC Commander, Rocket or Drone Hub)
- Drones can be manually assigned to any drone controller on the map. If currently not within its range, they will start moving towards it. They might run out of energy mid way.
- Drones will only re-assign themselves to a drone controller within range (this happens when the original controller lifts off (Rocket) or becomes unpowered (Drone Hub) or starts moving (RC Commander).
- Drones will be only be assigned tasks, that lie within the current range of the drone controller they are currently assigned to. This range can (and should) be set by the player.
The control area may be adjusted for each controller and defaults to maximum range. Smaller coverage areas may be useful for focusing drones on a specific task such as refilling a rocket.
- Each drone controller works independently. In case their control areas overlap, it is randomized which controller does which task of the ones at hand.
- Automatically assigned tasks include:
- move resources to construction sites and to buildings that require maintenance and repair
- perform construction of a building, perform maintenance and perform repair (once all required materials are on site)
- move resources between depots until the desired distribution is achieved (adjust via ...)
- mine surface resources, i.e. move from surface deposit to suitable storage
- RC vehicles can mine surface deposits.
- RC vehicles and Shuttles can move resources between storage sites.
- But only drones can manipulate the building-own storage, i.e. provide material for construction site, empty produced good, fill good for production (e.g. bring Food to Grocer)
- Colonists refuse to do any of the menial tasks above
Drone hubs come packaged with four drones and can command up 20; researching Drone Swarms increases the initial number to six and total control to 100. The SpaceY sponsor adds four extra starting drones to a total of eight (ten with Drone Swarms). RC Commanders start with four drones and can command eight; researching Rover Command AI increases the starting number to eight and total control to 20. Rockets can control up to 20 drones and will release control of drones when they launch. Released drones will automatically be assigned to any nearby controller that has available control capacity. If a cargo rocket lands with more than 20 drones, the excess will have control released upon landing.
Drones can be shipped directly to Mars or built in a Drone Assembler for 1 Electronics each. The Printed Electronics Breakthrough allows for drone construction out of 1 Metals. Drones shipped by rocket will immediately begin work in the command range of the rocket; drones built in the assembler must be deployed (each drone controller has such a button) before they materialize on the map. Inactive drones are stored in an (invisible) global storage as prefabs, and may be recalled from or deployed to any controller at any time. Drones can also be reassigned directly by selecting the drone, then clicking the reassign button. The drone will stop any action it is currently performing and, if not already in range, move to the command range of its new controller.
Drones have 3 available skins: White, red and blue.
In Space Race Japan uses Wasp Drones instead of regular ones. They hover above ground, which makes them both faster and capable of flying over buildings and most terrain. Wasp Drones cannot be hit by meteors or lightning while flying. They have only one skin available.
There are a number of technologies that can be researched that improve your colony's drones:
|Advanced Drone Drive||Breakthrough||Drones move 40% faster|
|Artificial Muscles||Breakthrough||Drones carry two resources at once|
|Battery Optimization||Robotics||Drone battery capacity increased by 50%|
|Low-G Drive||Robotics||Drones and Rovers move 25% faster|
|Wireless Power||Breakthrough||Drone Recharge Stations service Drones in a 3 hex-range instantly.|